First appeared in “Sunday Times” on December 17, 1950
With the passing of Sri Aurobindo, everyone sees a big question mark hanging over the Ashram. What is the future of the Ashram? What about the sadhana that was being pursued there? Who will take the place of Sri Aurobindo in guiding, aiding and nourishing the sadhaks moving on the evolutionary track of spiritual unfoldment?
These are some of the questions that are being asked by people interested in and antagonistic to the Ashram. As I roved about the streets of this quiet-looking seaside town, I heard a number of people indulging in a lot of wishful thinking, each according to his own mental slant.
Who could make a pronouncement on the future of the Ashram? Who could, on the strength of experiences of the past and on the confidence of a pre-vision of the future, clear the doubts and answer the questions raised?
I approached Sri T. V. Kapali Sastriar. With his erudition matched only by his single-minded pursuit of the sadhana and his devotion to the Master amply borne out by his monumental works interpreting the yoga and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, he, I thought, is one of the few outstanding disciples, who could speak to answer questions and clear doubts.
And in the sun-down setting still suffused with the golden hues of the dawn and in the sombre atmosphere still splendorous with the Light of the Master, it was a job to draw him out. To trouble him was indeed cruel. But to allow him his silence was an encouragement to all kinds of wishful thinking.
So I pursued him and asked: “With the passing of Sri Aurobindo what will be the future of the Ashram, of the sadhana…”
I was checked before I could complete the sentence. “Passing, passing,” said Sri Sastriar twitching his brow. “Who passed away and where? Not certainly Sri Aurobindo. The Master оf Integral Yoga is here, as intensely and as concretely as ever. May be, he is not in the body in which he was. This is not said in the conventional jargon that the spirit abides even when the body perishes. Many spirits may be alive like that.
“But when I say that Sri Aurobindo is here, I mean it in as concrete and as contactable a sense as possible. Yes, those that have been looking up to him for guidance and aid in yoga have not felt him gone, have not found themselves orphaned, have not felt a void, though, of course, the physical pangs of separation are there. So why speak of the passing of Sri Aurobindo and riddle your minds with questions and doubts about the future of the Ashram and of the sadhana initiated by the Master. The Ashram will go on as before and so also the sadhana and those that have surrendered themselves to its pursuit wholeheartedly and without reserve.”
“But,” I interposed, “Sri Aurobindo the unseen might provide the guidance and the aid needed in the sadhana. Who can physically fill his place, providing the physical touch and the dynamis for the direction of affairs? The Mother was till now the Chief Executive of the Ashram. Can she provide that inspiration which Sri Aurobindo provided till now and command that amount of loyalty and devotion that he did?”
Sri Sastriar sat still and in silence for a long while. Then he said: “A fundamental mistake is committed by most people, who try to evaluate the position of the Mother. They start by thinking and saying that the Mother is different and far removed from the Master.
“The Master and the Mother are not different and separate. The Mother is a part of Sri Aurobindo’s being. She is the manifested, dynamic part of his soul. And any one who has totally dedicated himself to the sadhana of Sri Aurobindo would have known that it is the Mother who has been acting not only as the executive head of the Ashram but also as the unfailing and ever-watchful guide, drawing all the power and light from Sri Aurobindo and passing them on to hundreds of sadhaks in hundreds of ways, all according to each one’s needs. That the help that is being provided by her is adequate and growing with the growing needs of the sadhaks is a matter of openly avowable experience.”
“Did Sri Aurobindo,” I cut in, “recognise her as such and tell you that she was a part of his being and that she was working out his mission according to his pattern? Do you know it yourself?”
“Yes,” he said with a glow in his eyes and an emphasis in his words. “I know it and Sri Aurobindo indicated to me who and what the Mother is.
“Way back in 1927, when I had known and met Sri Aurobindo but had not known much about the Mother and when I had occasion to write to him about her, he had a manuscript copy of the Four Powers of the Mother sent to me which was later on incorporated in the book, The Mother, and provided me with a glimpse into the powers and personality of the Mother. I had an instant and spontaneous faith in his words and that faith was increasingly verified by experience.
“From that time I have known and seen and felt the many-facetted personality of the Mother in action. It is impossible to know Sri Aurobindo without knowing the Mother. It is impossible to get the grace and guidance of the Master without a fervid devotion to the Mother. Sri Aurobindo has not gone anywhere. He is more intensely and concretely present in the Mother. So why these doubts regarding the future of the Ashram and of the sadhana?”
Saying this, Sri Sastriar handed me the following gem-cut poem, deep in meaning, fervid in adoration and faithful in interpreting the Master’s vision of the Mother composed a few days before the November Darshan for a function in the Ashram school. Sri Sastriar added that this was the first time when, without any knowledge of the coming event, he had composed a poem in adoration of the Mother alone, though generally there used to be a mention of the name of Sri Aurobindo in verses composed for such functions. “Was the guiding will of the Master at work to indicate that the Mother was in the near future to become the sole physical manifestation of his being,” asked Sri Sastriar and added “Perhaps”.
This is the poem rendered in English:
She — who from the King of All Creation takes and forms countless portions and knows the process, whose Thought is wakeful in the mobile and the immobile, who is the Primal Force, Shakti holding the three worlds in her gaze, She here as a separate Soul shines, Mother Mira.
The Splendour that gave birth to the Sons of Heaven accepted the human body to give succour to the sons of earth and end the lot of miseries. By the glances, cool and ever cool with smiles of glow for mate, She dries out distress and chases gloom. Resplendent in glory the Mother Mira!
For the increase and growth of happy (new) births, She upholds youth’s nature and law for ever. For the worship of those who are yoked (to the Divine), suitable form She wears. For the practice and success of those who seek to learn the new physique’s sculpture, She keeps aloft the new Knowledge at play. Resplendent in glory the Mother Mira!